Adventures / Summit Fever

Guatemala 5 Volcano Challenge

Hike and summit five of Guatemala's volcanoes - dubbed 'The Ring of Fire' - ending up at spectacular Lake Atitlan

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Trip Ref #10037

Adventures / Summit Fever

Guatemala 5 Volcano Challenge

Hike and summit five of Guatemala's volcanoes - dubbed 'The Ring of Fire' - ending up at spectacular Lake Atitlan

DURATION

9 nights

LOCATION

Guatemala

ANNUAL LEAVE

7 days off work

SEASON

All year round

GROUP SIZE

Up to 14 people

MEETING POINT

La Aurora Airport, Guatemala City

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel · Campsite

DIFFICULTY

Challenging

You'll need a good level of fitness to scale 5 peaks in 8 days, but no previous mountaineering experience or technical skills are required

Take in the views as you stand on top of Tajumulco volcano (4220m): the highest point of Central America

See each of Guatemala's 3 active volcanoes, including the continuously erupting 'Volcan de Fuego'

Watch the sunrise from Acatenango volcano with 360 degree views all the way to Mexico

What's it like?

    See the photos our community shared

    All our reviews are verified

    We only invite travellers to leave a review if they have booked this trip with Much Better Adventures.

    Carly, March 2022

    Absolutely incredible trip that I couldn't recommend more! The most stunning views, brilliant hikes and fun adventure. From watching errupting volcanoes from your tent, to swimming in the bluest of lakes, to watching sunrises/sunsets from the top of the world, to drinking tea around the campsite watching the stars - every day is jam-packed with goodies. I got really lucky with an amazing guide team that became our friends and a group of adventurers that felt like long-time friends. A big shout out to Luis Pedro, Christa, Diego and Denver who kept us safe, kept us smiling, had the best conversation and felt more like fellow-travellers than guides. If you're looking for a physically active trip where you'll enjoy lots of long hikes and be rewarded with the most incredible sights, go for it - you'll have the time of your life.

    Darran, February 2022

    Amazing experience, wonderful team, just do it ;)

    Flick, March 2022

    What a trip! Once in a lifetime. The local guides made us feel like a family. Watching sunrise on Acatenango was my highlight. Gave me some time to really think, and be grateful. The chef we had with us was outstanding. Such delicious food, all prepared on the volcanoes! Hotels were a surprisingly good standard. There was a pool at two of them to help us soak tired legs. Really enjoyed all the different transports involved and would recommend spending some time at San Marco at the end of your trip for some rest and relaxation!

    Chouchou-Charlotte, March 2022

    Such a wonderful adventure!! Breathtaking sunrises, amazing hikes through cloud forests or steaming lava rocks, sunsets above 3500m with campfires and hot chocolates: this trip was mind-blowing. Every hike is unique and everything is planned to give you time to acclimatize, so it won't feel hard if you are relatively active. I was lucky to have the most incredible guides & to be part of a fantastic group of 7 tough ladies! What a dream!

    Danielle, March 2022

    An amazing trip! Stunning landscapes, wonderful local guides, and great company. All the hikes are different & interesting. Be fit & active to get the most out of this trip.

    Georgia, March 2022

    What an incredible trip! The trip was filled with moments of pure happiness and appreciation for such beautiful scenery, and also a sense of achievement of what is quite a tough, physical trip. Our local guides (Luis Pedro, Christa, Diego and Denber) really made this trip extra special and helped us to feel safe and supported throughout. Thank you!

    Stuart, February 2022

    I would highly recommend this trip for anyone active who is looking to challenge themselves anx explore this stunning country! Highlights were camping on Santa Maria and Acetenango, particularly the latter with constantly erupting Fuego in the distance. This was otherworldly at night. Summitting for sunrise was something I'll never forget too. The kit was totally fine and the hosts were friendly and very considerate. It was slightly disappointing not to be able to climb Tajumulco (due to local conflict), but the reasons were understandable and our hosts did their best to compensate for this. They always held our safety as their number 1 priority. They trip is obviously very active, but you won't feel rushed and there's time to relax too. There isn't much time to explore Atitlan, so you should do this on your first afternoon there if you can.

    Maura, November 2021

    Would highly recommend this trip! It exceeded my expectations - the views were phenomenal and actually got to see a volcano erupting! The hikes were challenging but our guides Luis, Pedro, Lucas and Herbert made it all possible. They were extremely knowledgeable and attentive, working around the clock to make sure everything ran seamlessly - camping equipment was spotless, the food was delicious and the stories were fun!

    Hania, November 2021

    This trip was amazing! Challenging, exciting, beautiful views, & great people!

    Melissa, November 2021

    Wow! This was an incredible trip. The local guides were amazing and helped make the trip extra memorable going above and beyond on many occasions. The meals were great and included some of the best hiking/camping food I've had. It is a challenging endeavor but well worth the effort. Be ready to be exhausted while experiencing the most incredible views. Highly recommend this trip, Guatemala is amazing! Luis, Pedro, Lucas, and Hebert were amazing hosts/guides/driver. They really made this trip. Eduardo was super clear on communication and helped on the organization piece to make this seamless. Kudos to all of them.

    Included

    Guides

    Expert, English-speaking local guides

    Accommodation

    7 nights in local hotels. 2 nights camping on volcanoes.

    Transfers

    To and from the airport, and everything in between

    Meals

    8 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 2 dinners of tasty Central American food

    Equipment

    All of the camping equipment for sleeping on the Acatenango and Tajumulco volcanoes is provided

    Permits

    All permits and entry fees

    Not Included

    Travel insurance

    Personal expenses

    Some meals as described

    Tips for your guides

    Flights to and from the meeting point

    The Area

    map

    Logistics

    Starts

    La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala City (GUA)

    Arrive any time on Day 1

    Ends

    La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala City (GUA)

    Depart any time on Day 10

    Transfers

    Transfers between La Aurora International Airport (GUA) and your hotel in Antigua are provided for any flight arriving on Day 1, and departing on Day 10 of the trip.

    If you wish to arrive earlier or stay on later, your host can arrange private transfers for an additional cost. See Optional Extras for details.

    Travel options

    There are direct flights to La Aurora International Airport, Guatemala City from many destinations in the US, and via Madrid from Europe.

    Day 1

    Hotel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 2

    Hotel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 3

    Campsite · Twin tent

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 4 – Day 5

    Hotel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 6

    Campsite · Twin tent

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 7

    Hotel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 8

    Hotel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 9

    Hotel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 10

    Departure day

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    What is the food like?

    Traditional Guatemalan food is based on Maya cuisine with Spanish influences. Classic meals usually include corn, beans, chillies, rice, pork, beef, chicken, cheese and tortillas as staple ingredients. Picnic lunches are provided on hiking days.

    Your host has deliberately not included the evening meals in Antigua, Xela and Atitlan in your trip. Guatemala is cheap and it's great fun to explore the food options in each place. Antigua in particular is a food lover's dream, the street food scene here is worth investing some time and Quetzals in.

    Camp dinners on Acatenango and Tajumulco are real highlights of the trip. Your guide will prep Guatemalan food on the slopes while you take in the views of the neighbouring, and often erupting, volcanic peaks.

    Vegetarian, vegan and most other dietary requirements can be accomodated on this trip.

    What is the accommodation like?

    Antigua: Casa Antigua

    In Antigua your base will be at Casa Antigua.

    Quetzaltenango: Hotel Modelo

    In Quetzaltenango you'll stay in Hotel Modelo: a charming, historic hotel run by four generations of the same family.

    Lake Atitlan: San Pedro la Laguna

    At Lake Atitlan you'll stay at Sak'cari in San Pedro La Laguna. This is an eco-hotel right on the waterfront, run on renewable energy and with an amazing pool with views of the lake and volcanoes. It's the perfect spot to wind down after all the volcano action.

    Volcano Camping

    You'll also camp on volcanoes Acatenango and Tajumulco. All of your camping gear is provided; tent, sleeping mat and sleeping bag. Be advised that night time on the volcanoes can be quite cold, so do bring warm layers with you. There will be campfires to keep you toasty at dinner time, while stargazing and watching Fuego volcano do its thing.

    Upgrades

    All hotel rooms and tents on the trip are based on twin sharing. So for solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room and tent can be booked throughout the trip (subject to availability). See Optional Extras for prices.

    Day 1

    Explore Antigua

    You'll be met at the airport and in Guatemala City for your 1 hour transfer to Antigua: the base for the first of volcano climb. After settling into your hotel, you'll have free time to wander Antigua's cobbled streets and browse the myriad street stalls.

    Day 2

    Hike Pacaya Volcano (2288m)

    Hiking

    3-4hrs · 6km · 400m up · 400m down

    In the morning you'll get straight to the task at hand: climbing volcanoes. You'll meet the group and drive to the trailhead of Pacaya volcano, lace up your hiking boots and head for the summit. The route to the top weaves through lava fields, formed by eruptions as recent as 2010. Geothermal hotspots can be found on the cooled lava formations; you can even roast marshmallows here to fuel your hike.

    When you reach Pacaya's peak - your first of five volcano summits - you'll enjoy a picnic overlooking neighbouring volcanoes Agua, Fuego and Acatenango. You'll head back to Antigua for the evening: grab a beer and some classic Central American food from Antigua's many street stalls, bars, restaurants and cafes.

    Day 3

    Acatenango Volcano Hike and Overnight Camp (3750m)

    Hiking

    5-6hrs · 8km · 1100m up

    You'll grab a big breakfast in Antigua before heading to the trailhead at La Soledad. Today's volcano hike is up the imposing Acatenango. The hike starts off through farmland and small villages, before ascending into a cloud forest. This is an area of high biodiversity, home to the famous Quetzal bird. You'll soon be greeted with sweeping views of the highlands and neighbouring volcanoes: a good time for a scenic refuel as you picnic on the volcano slopes.

    After hiking through temperate forest, you'll reach the private camp spot at 3750m above sea level, cut into the slopes just below the tree line. Enjoy a fresh camp dinner and a night around the campfire. You are likely to have views of Fuego volcano belching fumes into the sky, just 4km away. It is an active volcano, with its last major eruption in 2018.

    Day 4

    Sunrise on Acatenango Volcano (3976m) and descend to Quetzaltenango

    Hiking

    2-3 hours · 7km · 475m up · 1575m down

    You'll rise early to complete the hour-long hike to the summit of Acatenango, along a sand and scree covered trail. Reaching the cold and windswept summit, you'll be rewarded with 360-degree views of the entire Guatemalan highlands, all the way to the border of Mexico.

    You'll descend via a different route, moving through several different micro-climates as you lose altitude. Back at the trailhead, you'll jump in the van and head towards Guatemala's second largest city, Quetzaltenango - also known by its Mayan name, Xela. Check into your hotel and enjoy a free evening in this lively city.

    Day 5

    Hike up Santa Maria Volcano (3770m)

    Hiking

    6-7hrs · 10km · 1200m up · 1200m down

    Next up is your third volcano peak: Santa Maria. Again you'll have an early start - but as the well-known phrase goes: the early bird summits the volcano! There is a 45 minute drive to reach the village of Llanos del Pinal where your hike starts.

    Santa Maria has a fairly steep ascent to the summit along a dirt trail. After 4 or 5 hours of hiking, you'll have earnt your summit views: a spectacular bird's eye view of Santa Maria's sister volcano, the active Santiaguito. From high up on Santa Maria, you'll be able to look down into the fiery crater of Santiaguito. If you're lucky you may get to witness an eruption. Back at your hotel in Xela, you'll have a free evening to explore the city and chill after another incredible day of volcano hiking.

    Day 6

    Hike Tuichan Volcano - Central America's Highest Point (4219m)

    Hiking

    5-6hrs · 8km · 1100 up

    Another early start for a 3 hour drive to Tuichan, close to the border with Mexico. Tuichan is the base for your climb up Tajumulco, Guatemala's highest volcano and the highest point in all of Central America. The hiking today is fairly easy going, but it's a long day with around 7 or 8 hours of hiking. There are beautiful forest trails and pine studded ridges on the way to your camp spot for the night. You'll put your head down to sleep at roughly 4000m above sea level - but not just yet.

    From the camp, the volcano summit is a steep climb for 30 minutes more, topping out at 4219m. You're officially on the top of Central America! Another awesome night of wild volcano camping awaits on the short descent back to camp.

    Day 7

    Descend Tajumulco and drive to Lake Atitlan

    Hiking

    2-3 hours · 5km · 20m up · 1120m down

    Wake up on the volcano and make your descent down Tajumulco. You have a long drive to recover on, with a lunch stop en route, through the Guatemalan highlands to spectacular Lake Atitlan. You'll take a boat across the lake from Panajachel to your lakeside eco-hotel in the small town of San Pedro. The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy this special place. Head in to town or just lie in a hammock and bask in the views of water and fire - lake and volcanoes all around you.

    Day 8

    Hike up San Pedro Volcano (3020m)

    Hiking

    7-8hrs · 9km · 1200m up · 1200m down

    You may have been relaxing, but this adventure isn't over yet! Today is your fifth and final volcano summit: San Pedro volcano. After breakfast beside the lake, you'll take a boat across to the trail head. Experience your final epic hike through cloud forest, with sweeping highland vistas and spectacular views back down towards Lake Atitlan. At over 3000m, San Pedro volcano is no baby, but a fitting place to end your volcano hiking adventure.

    Day 9

    Unwind at Lake Atitlan

    Congratulations: you've summited five volcanoes in a week! You've certainly earned a rest day, so the lake and eco-hotel is yours to soak up as you wish. There are kayaks available for use, or you can head to one of the best swimming spots at the lake. If you have some energy left, you can opt to head out ziplining or take a trip to nearby Mayan villages. Late in the afternoon you'll head back to Antigua for a final evening celebrating with your week of volcano summits with your group.

    Day 10

    Head back to the airport

    Enjoy breakfast in Antigua and any spare time you may have before your host takes you back to the airport in Guatemala City for your departure flight.

    15% Off Outdoor Gear

    In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

    What's included?

    • All of the camping equipment for sleeping on the Acatenango and Tajumulco volcanoes is provided

    What do I need to bring?

    Bags

    • Soft overnight duffel bag or rucksack
    • Daypack
    • Waterproof liner for rucksack or drybags

    Clothes

    • Down jacket
    • Waterproof jacket
    • Waterproof trousers
    • Breathable wicking layers
    • Fleece jacket or similar
    • Thermals (merino is best)
    • Warm hat
    • Buff or neckscarf
    • Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
    • T-shirts
    • Underwear & socks
    • Swimwear
    • Sunglasses
    • Sunhat
    • Something to sleep in
    • Hiking boots (worn-in)
    • Sandals

    Other

    • Padlock for left luggage
    • Universal travel plug adapter
    • Power bank or solar charger
    • Spare camera batteries
    • Passports (and visas)
    • Travel Insurance documents
    • Ear plugs
    • Insect repellant
    • Suncream
    • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
    • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
    • Toilet kit (toilet paper, biodegradable bags to carry out)
    • Quick-dry towel
    • Alcohol hand-gel
    • Headtorch or torch
    • Reusable water bottle x 1 ltr
    • Biodegradable wet-wipes
    • Energy bars and snacks
    • Water purification tablets/treatment system

    Optional Private Room / Tent Upgrade

    Payable Before Departure

    Optional Private Room / Tent Upgrade

    Per Person

    Single room in Antigua

    Payable Before Departure

    Single room in Antigua

    Per Night

    Private transfer between Guatemala City and Antigua (each way)

    Payable Before Departure

    Private transfer between Guatemala City and Antigua (each way)

    We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

    What's the number?
    It works out on average at 221kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

    The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

    But what does the number mean?
    Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

    • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
    • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
    • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

    What are we doing about it?
    Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

    Want to know more?
    Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

    You'll need a good level of fitness for this trip. You'll be scaling 5 volcanoes in 10 days and some of the ascents are steep. However you won't need any technical ability or mountain climbing experience. You'll just be happy hiking for several hours a day and being active for several days in a row.

    Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

    Dry season runs from November to March, with the fringe months of October and April also being good times to visit. The Guatemalan highlands have a great climate for hiking, with lows of 10°C and highs of 27°C generally.

    Be aware that the nights camping on Acatenango and Tajumulco volcanoes will be cold as you are sleeping at around 4000m above sea level. Make sure to pack enough warm layers for this part. Thermals, fleeces or light down jackets will be fine.

    Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion. Your guide will help with advice however, we suggest the amount below as a guideline per person:

    Guide: 3-5 US dollars a day

    Of course, you are free to tip more or less and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

    Tap water in Guatemala is not safe to drink, so you'll need to stick to bottled or filtered water. Each hotel you'll stay in will have filtered water where you can fill up your bottles before each hike. Your host is passionate about reducing single-use plastic waste in Guatemala, so they won't provide plastic bottles of drinking water at any stage.

    You'll only need to carry a day pack for each hike. Your main pack can be left behind at the hotels in León, Playa Santo Domingo on Ometepe, and Granada, and will be transferred in between each of your bases.

    Yes, for the two overnight volcano camps everyone in the group pitches in and helps carry the camping gear: sleeping bags, pads and parts of the tent you will be using. This is all part of the experience of hiking to the top of a volcano and pitching up for a night sleeping out on the summit.

    Additional porters for the overnight camp sections are available to hire locally at an extra cost: $25USD each way. Your host in Guatemala has worked alongside local communities around the volcanoes to help set up a guide association to ensure fair pay for porters and guides, and high safety standards for all visitors to the volcanoes.

    Yes you can leave your excess luggage in Antigua if you need to. Be aware that you won't be returning to Antigua until the end of the trip, so you'll need to take everything with you for the volcano climbs.

    We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

    For current advice about travelling in Guatemala, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

    Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

    Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

    We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

    We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

    If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

    All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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